UK 'war' with Islamic State, 'shamed' Dave Lee Travis and Ed Miliband's 'odd' speech

Britain's engagement in military action against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria is seen as inevitable by several papers, notable the Daily Express and Daily Mirror.

The latter predicts that the country will be at war by the weekend. However, that's not soon enough for the Times, which complains about the insistence on recalling Parliament: "We elect governments to take difficult decisions and then to be held accountable for them. Indeed, to be able to make such judgments has traditionally been regarded as one of the necessary qualities of a prime minister."

However, the Guardian's Simon Tisdall questions both the legality and effectiveness of the strikes, and wonders how both Syria and Iran will react.

The Mirror hears the case for Britain joining the efforts from former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Col Richard Kemp, who writes: "We are in a global war against terrorism for generations. If we ignore it, many more of our people will be butchered like [IS hostage] David Haines and [murdered soldier] Lee Rigby." However, the paper also gives space to Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation which campaigns for international co-operation, to argue: "There will need to be a concerted effort to defeat the evil ideology of terrorism and that cannot be done with further violence."


'Unprecedented support'

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American forces carried out their first strikes within Syria on Monday and, for the Daily Star, there's much to celebrate in the US having secured the backing of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE. "This unprecedented support shows just how barbaric IS really are," it says, adding: "At least we know the vast majority of the world is on our side."

Michael Burleigh writes in the Daily Mail that David Cameron will meet Hassan Rouhani, leader of Iran - a country which has turned from "old foe" to "crucial ally". The writer says that Shia-led Tehran "wants to see the back of IS" but that many of the Sunni moderates Obama is trying to woo consider Iran's Shia regime a greater enemy than IS. However, he adds: " Iran is such a major power that it is far better to try to enlist its help and keep its president onside than to continue to treat it as a pariah."

Novelist and former SAS sergeant Andy McNab writes in the Sun: "IS are Sunnis. Interestingly, the states that have allied themselves with the US have Sunni governments. America doesn't need their firepower but it does need their influence - so that once IS is wiped out, the same ideology does not just pop up elsewhere."

Another SAS operative-turned-writer, Chris Ryan, considers the UK's role for the Mirror: "The SAS alongside American special forces can take the fight to the Islamic State. You wouldn't need thousands of ordinary troops on the ground. It's about surgical hits and taking out their hierarchy. What still needs to be discussed is how much they can do and how far they can go. What do they do if they come across hostages and [British hostage taker] Jihadi John? What are their options to stop him?"

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The Independent's Kim Sengupta says special forces might be required to build a proper picture of the effects of strikes: "A rising [civilian] lethal toll from further raids risks support rising for the Islamists and the danger of such 'collateral damage' increases when there is a paucity of human intelligence on the scene."

The Guardian hears from residents of Raqqa, where IS targets were bombed, to find several of them supportive of the strikes. Meanwhile, the Financial Times hears unverified claims from a rebel fighter, from a non-IS-affiliated Islamist group, who says he pulled the bodies of women and children from the wreckage of a residential building. "We asked for Western strikes to come and support our fight to free Syria, not to kill us," he complains.

The Independent is among the papers highlighting what it calls President Barack Obama's "Damascene conversion", having previously set his sights on the removal from power of his Syrian counterpart. Its editorial points out he is now intervening "on the opposite side" but adds: "Despite the evident incoherence, we believe he had no choice in the matter. And by launching the new attacks with the participation of five Arab allies, he has done all in his power to defuse in advance the most obvious risks of this new initiative."

The Times's David Taylor says that while Mr Obama had been unwilling to be dragged into dumb wars, "his hoped-for legacy as a smarter type of president will be assured if he can answer the 'now what?' question by delivering a new type of American global leadership through a partnership to wipe out Islamic State".


'Sinister character'

The conviction of former BBC Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Dave Lee Travis for indecent assault makes the front pages of some papers, with the Sun using his nickname to suggest he could be sent to prison. "Hairy Cornflake faces porridge," is its headline.

Some papers profile the man who moved from pirate station Radio Caroline to hit the big time. "In its heyday, his breakfast show on Radio 1 had millions of listeners - and a regular stint on Top of the Pops confirmed his celebrity," says the Daily Express's Cyril Dixon. "After yesterday's verdict, Dave Lee Travis stands shamed."

The indecent assault related to Travis groping a researcher during the filming of an episode of the Mrs Merton Show in 1995. "He gamely played along with [the show's star] Caroline Aherne's gentle ribbing, showing himself to be a good sport who was willing to poke fun at himself," writes the Telegraph's Martin Evans. "But behind the scenes, the sinister side of his apparently jovial character was all too evident for one junior member of the programme's production team."

David Brown writes in the Times that DLT had become "known by young women colleagues as 'the octopus' because of his wandering hands" but that when BBC managers were informed, no action was taken. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail says at least one of the eight women he was cleared of assaulting at his first trial plans to take civil action against both Travis and the BBC. A spokesman is quoted saying the corporation cannot comment on pending civil cases.


Looking the part?

Ed Miliband's final Labour conference speech before the general election is picked over for signs that he's ready to lead his party into government.

"As an analyst, Miliband is persuasive. But this is the trouble," reckons the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland. "The job he is applying for is not to describe the country's problems but to fix them. And it's in that latter regard that he does not quite convince. With just eight months to go, he doesn't yet look the part."

His sketchwriter colleague John Crace is more blunt, describing: "A guy who can talk for an hour and make it feel twice that."

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"Leader Miliband... was speaking so slowly, the audible, delayed feed in the exhibition hall outside caught up with him. The sign-language man downed fingers because he was in danger of lapping Mr Miliband," says the Mail's Quentin Letts. Meanwhile, the Sun's Trevor Kavanagh says the speech was "almost embarrassingly awful", describing it as "like Listen With Mother read in an echo chamber by Adrian Mole age 44½".

But it was the anecdotes about "everyday" people Mr Miliband had met that stuck in the minds of most sketchwriters.

According to the Telegraph's Michael Deacon, Mr Miliband "devoted what felt like half of his almost endearingly odd speech to recounting the innumerable occasions when he had suddenly accosted what he calls 'the everyday working people of Britain'."

"Basically Ed has been roaming the country for the past year, meeting people and demanding to know their names," explains Ann Treneman, in the Times. The speech, she says, "contained a 10-year plan to save Britain and transform our lives. But, to be honest, it's Gareth that I remember. And the fact that if I ever meet Ed Miliband in a park, I must run the other way."

As the Independent's Donald MacIntyre puts it: "Everywhere he goes, he seems to bump into a regular punter who obligingly says something that will help with his conference speech."

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Quentin Letts says the speech even suffered an undignified end: "As he took the applause of the hall at the end, he jabbed forward to peck his wife Justine on the lips. Then, like a nervous adolescent, he leant in again - only for Mrs M to sway away. Might he have the same effect on the British electorate a few months hence?"

However, Mr Miliband is not without support. "There was no Nye Bevan soaring rhetoric from Dr Miliband, but saving the NHS might just win Labour the election," writes the Mirror's Kevin Maguire, describing the speech as "an intelligent reflection on the reality of life for most people in an unfair Britain".

The Financial Times's Matthew Engel was also sympathetic, saying the speech "ticked a lot of boxes" and adding: "Yes, it was a bit clunky, and sometimes he looked klutzy. On the campaign trail he will always be at a disadvantage against smoother operators. But the 'pathetic underdog' quality known in Yiddish as 'nebbish' is not without its advantages."

And the Independent's editorial says that - unlike the commentators - the audience was "carried by Mr Miliband's obvious decency and passion". It adds: "Mr Miliband articulated a social democratic vision of Britain which is, in several key respects, different to that of the coalition."


'Huge blunder'

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If Mr Miliband didn't quite earn rave reviews, the prime minister isn't having things entirely his own way either.

According to the Daily Mail, David Cameron will have to apologise to the Queen over comments he made to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg about her reaction to hearing that Scots had voted against independence in last week's referendum. The Mail reproduces "how he blabbed", printing the comments - picked up by TV cameras - which suggested the Queen "purred" at the news and that he'd never "heard someone so happy... grateful".

Former BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond describes it as a "huge blunder" in the Mirror. "He has divulged a private conversation between sovereign and prime minister, something that is meant to be sacrosanct... He was probably showing off a bit." However, she suggests the monarch won't so much as raise an eyebrow next time they meet. "There's nothing she hasn't seen before. I'd imagine last night over a gin and Dubonnet she said: 'What has that silly man done now?' And then she forgot all about it."

Telegraph cartoonist Matt suggests the Duke of Edinburgh might not be so forgiving, picturing a cabinet office lackey answering the phone and shouting: "It's Prince Philip for you, prime minister. He's not purring..."


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